Idea: Scrobbling my information consumption

Here’s a hypothetical tool I’d love to see someone build. The point of access is a bookmarklet you can click on any article page. When you activate it, you receive an overlay of information about the article like:

  • How much of the content is rewritten press release based on Churnalism
  • How much of the information within the article you’ve already read (and highlight what’s new)
  • What your Twitter and Facebook friends have said about the article
  • Whether or not the link has been submitted to Reddit, Digg, HN, delicious, and the comment threads associated with each
  • Links to related coverage
  • # of links within the article
  • # of words in the article
  • Sources cited in the article (see Nate Silver’s post about NYT citations)
  • Display information, like the font-size and line-height (see Steve Yelvington’s post about font size across publications)

And so on. It’s your rich heads-up display to the information you’re consuming.

The service is dual-purpose too. Every article you scrobble is logged, and you can track data points like:

  • Most common publications you read
  • Most popular authors you read
  • Which topics you read
  • # of articles you read every month
  • # of words you ready every month

On the web application, you could set a “budget” for your information consumption, see areas where you’re lacking and where you’re excelling, and view recommendations for getting up to speed on a subject.

Importantly, the tool shouldn’t be tied to any publication. The New York Times, for instance, could start doing part of this based on passive behavior of logged-in visitors, but it’s probably a narrow scope of the person’s entire consumption.

Bookmarklets are much more user-friendly than browser extensions, and I think services like Instapaper are popularizing them beyond the technorati.


Jon Stahl April 3, 2011 Reply

Love it. Actually feels like a bit much for an overlay, I think I’d prefer a browser sidebar. But regardless, this would be brilliant.

Martin Spindler April 3, 2011 Reply

Nice idea, but I think it’s still a bit on the conservative side. I want true “scrobbling” for idea consumption. That would mean implicit data, not explicit data. The obvious way would be to do a browser history dump every so often and then send that data to a webserver for analysis. (Imagine that: never again thinking about: “which site was it where I’ve read this and that…”)
You could add the meta-info, which sounds awesome, but which kinda feels like the app running while you’re listening to music on iTunes.

albert April 4, 2011 Reply

I’ve been thinking about this too. Let’s do it.

Except… I already have a bunch of bookmarklets I can and mostly don’t click for each page for,, instapaper, readability, etc. Let’s let this work as a plug-in in the background too to just run in the background without intervention unless you want to immediately see stats.
Of course… I would only trust that to run on a server I control.

Daniel Bachhuber April 4, 2011 Reply

Want to start this weekend? Or is this weekend when you’re out of town?

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